February 7, 2023

“I Thought I was Over This” — When Grieving is Not Linear

It often happens when you least expect it—you’ve gone days (or weeks!) feeling OK, maybe even “normal” (whatever that means) after experiencing a loss, and you think to yourself, “I think I’m finally doing okay.” And then a song, TV show, a certain scent or image, or important date will come up, and suddenly you’re reckoning with grief memories and trying to find a way to cope with the thoughts and feelings running through your mind.

During it all, you might be thinking, “Why is this still so hard? I thought enough time had passed. I thought I was over this.”

Just as life isn’t linear and doesn’t have a specific path or destination, neither is our grief a linear experience. This means that the path we take through grief, from the moment of loss to integration, is full of ups and downs, with lots of surprises—both good and not-so-good—along the way.

There is No Right or Wrong Way to Grieve

As a grief counselor in Seattle, many of my clients find that their grief is not linear, that it doesn’t follow the path they were expecting, and that their grief catches them by surprise even months or years down the road.

When we go through a major loss, our lives are turned upside down, and our bodies and minds often react in ways that feel unfamiliar or strange. There might be people, places, objects, or circumstances that are grief triggers that catch you unaware. Sometimes, a memory will pop into your mind without you even trying, and it hits from out of nowhere—one moment you’re walking down the street on a beautiful spring day, enjoying the sunshine, and the next moment, you’re overwhelmed with feelings of sadness, anger, loneliness, or sorrow, and you just have to sit down before you fall over from the grief.

It can be so confusing, unsettling, and frustrating when this happens. Especially if you think there is a “correct” way to grieve after a loss. You might be fearful of being blindsided by your grief, and you might even think you “should be over it,” whatever it is, because a certain amount of time has passed since the loss occurred. But that’s just not how grief works, and it’s okay—normal, even—to cycle through periods of intense emotions and memories related to your loss.

Your Path Through Grief is Unique

There’s truly no one-size-fits all path through grief. Some folks find that they weave between experiences of deep sorrow, hot anger, and expansive joy when thinking of the change or loss they’ve endured; others find it hard to connect with any emotions at all, for fear of the intensity or uncertainty of being face-to-face with their loss.

Grief is something that most of us will experience at some point in our lives, and there’s no way of predicting how you’ll react until it happens. Just like entering an unfamiliar forest, with no map to guide your way, the path you take into and through the experience of grief will be yours and yours alone.

Grief counseling can help

Not everybody who grieves needs counseling. But sometimes, our grief can get overwhelming to the point that we need some support and guidance in getting through it. This is where a grief counselor (also known as a bereavement counselor) can be helpful if you’re feeling stuck in your grief and unable to overcome the grip it has on your life.

What is a bereavement counselor or grief counselor?

A grief counselor is someone who has been trained to help others through their grief—often this is someone who is also licensed as a mental health counselor or social worker. Grief counselors can help you make sense of your emotions, validate your experiences of grief, and help you find ways to get “unstuck” in your grief. They can also help you understand more about the grief process and provide you with tools or guidance to manage big grief emotions when they come up.

Find Grief Counseling in Seattle

As a therapist in the Seattle area, I care deeply about my clients’ path through grief, and I love to use honesty, humor, and authenticity to help my clients reclaim their lives and move through their grief in a more empowered way.

To learn more about Seattle grief counseling, contact me for a free consultation to see if I’m the right fit for you.

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